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  • A special panel of scientists convened by the government issued Friday a 1,146-page draft report that details in dozens of ways how climate change is already disrupting the health, homes and other facets of daily American life. It warns that those disruptions will increase in the future....The blunt report takes a global environmental issue and explains what it means for different U.S. regions, for various sectors of the economy and for future generations....The report, written by team of 240 scientists, is required every four years by law. The first report was written in 2000. 

    Associated Press
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    Personal Rapid Transit is probably best described as a hybrid between the private car and public transit, with some more familiar elements of the taxi and elevator thrown in. Picture, in short, a pod car. Engineers and researchers (even Google!) have been fantasizing for several decades now about the concept, which would personalize public transit in small vehicles – perhaps running on or hanging from an elevated track – that would transport you straight to your destination without any of the stops and delays of a bus route, or without the cost of a taxi ride.

    Atlantic Cities
  • Encouraged by strong on-time performance rates and a new commitment to train cleanliness, BART passengers indicated robust support for the regional transit system in the latest customer satisfaction survey. Of the riders surveyed by BART, 84 percent said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the agency, an increase of 2 percent from when the last poll was conducted in 2010. Just 1 percent of the riders said they were very dissatisfied with BART.

    SF Examiner
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    Installed in 1970, Muni’s current train management system is disjointed and obsolete. When problems arise, it can take longer for technicians and engineers to pinpoint the issue than to actually fix the glitch, according to John Haley, Muni’s director of transit...A new $24.1 million communications network is up for approval today with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors, Muni’s governing body.

    SF Examiner
  • Supervisor Scott Wiener hasn't had the best luck lately convincing his board colleagues that Muni is in desperate, desperate need of more money to make its service more reliable, so on Tuesday he plans to take a new tack: link any disruption in transit service with cold, hard cash. "When a train breaks down in the subway, it doesn't happen in a vacuum," Wiener said... "Multiple Muni lines are affected, workers are delayed, commercial activity slows, and our economy suffers. These disruptions discourage people from using Muni, which results in increased vehicle congestion and negative environmental impacts. By quantifying the effects of Muni meltdowns, we will see how essential a well-funded, efficient transportation system is to our city's vitality."

    SF Chronicle
  • ...Sudden swings in the price of gas have become an ugly fact of life in the Golden State. Last October's run-up was the worst to date, with California's average price for a gallon of regular jumping 51 cents in less than two weeks to $4.67, a new record....Energy economist Severin Borenstein suggests that if a refinery fire or other problem cuts gas supplies in California, let the oil companies sell out-of-state gas here. Make them pay the state a fee for doing so, and use the cash to cut air pollution in other ways.

    SF Chronicle
  •  A team of researchers at the Berkeley-affiliated Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis is designing artificial leaves that can convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into chemical fuel, as with the photosynthesis of flowers and trees. The team has already built a crude prototype from silicon, polymers and platinum that can create a simple and clean hydrogen fuel, but if they can figure out how to cheaply produce more complicated energy sources, it would enable mass production of "drop-in" fuels that could power automobiles, trucks, planes and ships without pumping more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

    SF Chronicle
  • Chemical engineers at UC Berkeley have created a new, cleaner fuel out of an old concoction that was once used to make explosives. The fuel, which uses a century-old fermentation process to transform plant material into a propellant, could eventually replace gasoline and drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, according to the team of Berkeley scientists.

    SF Chronicle
  •  Amtrak’s fiscal 2012 operating loss was the lowest in nearly 38 years, which is a sign of progress, Joseph Boardman, the railroad’s president and CEO, said Thursday. The $361 million loss for the year ending Sept. 30 was down 19 percent from the previous year. In a conference call with reporters, Boardman also laid out an agenda for this year that includes delivery of the first of 70 new electric locomotives and 130 long-distance passenger cars, expansion of the Acela Express high-speed service in the Northeast with an additional New York-Washington round trip, and beginning the work necessary to acquire new high-speed trains.

    Boston Globe
  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration pro- duces the Pocket Guide to Transportation as a compact resource that provides snapshots of data on the U.S. transportation system and highlights major transportation trends. The Pocket Guide contains a wealth of informa- tion that supports the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Strategic Goals.

    RITA